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Half an hour ago you ordered some Chinese food. Now there's a knock on the door and someone's shouting, "Delivery!" As you open the door, what do you expect to see? If your answer is "A skinny, young Asian man with a wispy mustache and a bag of Chinese food," then chances are you're dead wrong. Recent research indicates that Asians rarely deliver Chinese food anymore. Most of them have gotten so good at math they go directly from high school to the research and analysis department at Goldman Sachs.
If you live in the New York tristate area, there's an 80 percent probability that your Chinese food will be delivered by a Senegalese man who claims to have been a doctor back in his native land but who, in truth, delivered food there, too. (This deliveryman is an archetypal representation of a burgeoning new ethnic stereotype: the Incomprehensible but Highly Opinionated African.)
But this fascinating paradigm transformation isn't just limited to the world of take-out food. The emotion required to navigate the complex waters of our shifting national ethnicity can affect our very democracy. In fact, many political analysts say that John Kerry actually lost the 2004 election during a whistle-stop tour through Florida when he visited a Broward County bar and ordered a Thug's Passion. (See chapter 2 for the recipes to this and other popular Black cocktails.)
A massive and fundamental change has occurred in the anthropological landscape of North America, and Hechinger's Field Guide to Ethnic Stereotypes will help you navigate the new, culturally rocky terrain. Eight years ago our grandfather Karl Hechinger started this field guide with a dual mission. Through exhaustive research and empirical evidence he wanted to document how ethnic "types" are really not all that different from one another. Sure, the Polish eat pierogis and the Japanese eat gyoza, but when you get right down to it...a stuffed dumpling is a stuffed dumpling. Like it or not, we are all more alike than we care to admit.
Grampa Karl also anticipated the need for a guide to the exploding ethnic melting pot in which we're living. North America is home to people from 168 different countries. So, the old stereotypes simply don't apply anymore. The rules have changed and we need a new playbook.
Unfortunately, Grampa was only halfway finished with this edition when tragedy struck. He was shot to death by a couple of crack-addled Jamaicans who broke into his apartment. (For more information on Drug-Addled Jamaicans, please turn to chapter 2; recipes for jerk chicken and homemade crystal meth follow.)
Grampa's dream became our mission. We visited every corner of this great land. We got shot at by territorial lobstermen in Maine, did shots of cobra's blood with Vietnamese mechanics in Detroit, and got hepatitis shots from a Guatemalan internist in Orange County. We saw every style, color, brand, blend, creed, and hue of every man, woman, child, nut bag, and whack job this majestic land has to offer. We learned many lessons, perhaps none more important than never drink cobra's blood.
Hechinger's Field Guide to Ethnic Stereotypes is an invaluable tool for the professional cultural anthropologist as well as the amateur enthusiast. In the pages that follow you will learn a lot about this land we all call home. You'll also learn a lot about yourselves.
Copyright © 2009 by Kevin Hechinger and Curtis Hechinger